Development of evidence-based mental health literacy program and emergency mental health response model for Ontario agriculture
Project 16-014 - Lead researcher: Andrea Jones-Bitton, University of Guelph
Project funded by OP in 2016. Completed in 2020.
Lead Researcher: Andrea Jones-Bitton, University of Guelph
Graduate student: Brianna Hagen, PhD in Epidemiology
Summer Student: Ashley Albright, DVM student
Ontario Pork Research Summary
Farming is recognized as a stressful occupation both in the routine daily tasks and during an emergency. For livestock producers, disease outbreaks can have significant economic and emotional consequences stemming from the loss of production and the loss of animals through mortalities and the need to euthanize. The agricultural industry is excellent at timely outbreak response in terms of effective control of disease. However checking in on or responding to the mental health needs of producers and other agricultural workers during and after disease outbreaks is a rare practice.
To respond to this issue, a University of Guelph research team gathered information from industry to develop a training program for agriculture on mental health. It includes how to recognize a person in need, how to respond and what resources are available. The team conducted one-on-one interviews with Ontario producers and other agricultural workers (i.e. agricultural support staff, veterinarians, and government personnel) to characterize the routine and emergency stresses related to agriculture and determine when this group generally seeks mental health assistance. In addition they examined the knowledge and perceptions of the current mental health support system and determine what those in agriculture would consider to be an ideal mental health support system.
The information gathered at the interviews and during engagement with stakeholder working groups (including producers, veterinarians, government personnel, agricultural support staff, social workers, psychologist, rural family health personnel) at four workshops will be used to determine how current mental health supports and emergency responses compare to what the participants suggest is their ideal. In addition, an agricultural mental health training program will be developed to aid in removing the stigma of mental illness and the provide those working in agriculture with the ability to recognize, discuss and respond to mental distress.
Livestock producer mental health can have far-reaching impacts on farm productivity and profitability and animal health and welfare. The importance of ensuring there are valued support systems and resources in place in agriculture is demonstrated by the number and variety of agricultural groups committed to the success of this project. Ontario Pork as well as the OMAFRA-University of Guelph Partnership (Emergency Management program), Egg Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency, and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture provided financial support and stakeholder participation and input to this project.
London Swine Conference - 2018: https://www.londonswineconference.ca/images/pdfs/Proceedings/LSCProceedings2018.pdf
London Swine Conference - 2017: https://www.londonswineconference.ca/images/pdfs/Proceedings/LSCProceedings2017.pdf
Arrell Food Summit 2018: https://arrellfoodinstitute.ca/summit-b1/
FarmSmart 2017: https://farmsmartconference.com
Final Research Report